CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG Begins 6/17 at The Coterie
Everyone's favorite fine, four-fendered friend, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, lands at The Coterie in Kansas City this summer. Based on the hit MGM motion picture and featuring The Sherman Brothers' original music from the film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang receives its Theatre for Young Audiences World Premiere as part of The Coterie's Lab for New Family Musicals, directed by Jeff Church, from June 17 - August 3, 2014.
Originally billed as "the most phantasmagorical musical in the history of everything...," Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fantastic musical adventure featuring an out-of-this world car that flies through the air and sails the seas. It tells the story of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts who, with the help of his children, Jeremy and Jemima, and the ever-lovely Truly Scrumptious, sets about saving a former Grand Prix-winning race car from the scrap heap. Soon they discover the car has magical properties, including the ability to float and take flight! After word gets out about its extraordinary abilities, trouble ensues when the evil Baron Bomburst decides he wants it all to himself, launching Caractacus, Jeremy, Jemima, and Truly on a series of high-flying high jinx to save the miraculous motorcar.
Produced as part of The Coterie's acclaimed Lab for New Family Musicals, this production will mark the World Premiere of the Theatre for Young Audiences version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Originally written as a novel for young adults by famed James Bond author and creator, Ian Fleming, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted by Roald Dahl into a quirky but charming script for the hit 1968 MGM motion picture. The film transformed the story into a musical by adding songs written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, composers of several Disney classics including Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats, among others. The Coterie's production will feature many of the original tunes from the movie, including "Truly Scrumptious," "Toot Sweets," "Hushabye Mountain," and the Oscar-nominated title song, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
When adapting the show for London's West End in 2002, producers were faced with the daunting prospect of bringing the indomitable personality of Chitty to life - including seeing the car take flight and set sail - live on stage. The Coterie now faces similar challenges for its production. "Some time ago, I saw the stage musical in London with a car that flew using hydraulics to lift and tilt it. 'How will we do it? Well, I'm working with designer Alex Espy, who is creating the car from a concept I had for staging the show in an imaginative, new way," explains Coterie Producing Artistic Director Jeff Church. "This is the first time permission for the musical has been given to try a new way of showcasing the car. We're very excited to show our audiences... but I'm not giving away any secrets early!" The London production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, on which The Coterie's Theatre for Young Audiences version is based, ran a record-setting three and one half years and was nominated for two Olivier awards. In 2005, the Broadway production of the show received five Tony Award nominations, 10 Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, and four Drama Desk nominations.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be produced as part of The Coterie Shines elementary and family series and will be appreciated by all ages, 5 years old through adult. The production is funded in part by the Missouri Arts Council, Theater League, the ArtsKC Fund, and The Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund.
In addition to featuring a full roster of Kansas City's best local talent, the cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will include the Coterie debut of Broadway veteran Jerry Jay Cranford, who will play the roles of Baron Bomburst and Lord Scrumptious, as well as serve as choreographer for the production. Cranford previously performed featured roles in Les Miserables on Broadway and in its national tour, in the national tours of Singing in the Rain and Anything Goes, and the European tour of Evita. Since last year, Cranford has worked as a professor at Kansas State University.
Other local actors in the cast are Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts), Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly Scrumptious), Martin Buchanan (as Grandpa Potts), Damian Blake (as Boris the Spy), Bob Linebarger (as Mr. Coggins), Hughston Walkinshaw (as The Childcatcher), Julie Shaw (as Baroness Bomburst), Teddy Trice (as Goran the Spy), Stefanie Stevens (Ensemble), and Andrew Thompson (Ensemble). Additionally, the cast features several young professional actors including Allison Banks (as Jemima Potts) and Lucas Dorrell (as Jeremy Potts), as well as Dakota Hoar, Marshall Hopkins, Malena Marcase, Reagan Danel Ogle, and Callie Rodina in the ensemble.
The artistic and production company includes Jeff Church (director), Anthony T. Edwards (music director), Angleyn Benson (Associate Musical Director), Jerry Jay Cranford (choreographer), Scott Hobart (set designer & technical director), Art Kent (lighting designer), Georgianna Londré Buchanan (costume designer), David Kiehl (sound designer), Trevor Frederiksen (properties designer), Alex Espy (car designer), Erika Bailey (dialect coach), Angleyn Benson (conductor & pianist), Brett Jackson (reed instruments), William J. Christie (production stage manager), Melissa E. Koerner (production assistant & deck manager), Matthew Henrickson (production assistant), and Daphany Edwards (production assistant).
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder